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Shanghai Triad (1995)
"Yao a yao, yao dao wai po qiao" (original title)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  22 December 1995 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,762 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 27 critic

A provincial boy related to a Shanghai crime family is recruited by his uncle into cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s to be a servant to a ganglord's mistress.

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Title: Shanghai Triad (1995)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Xiao Jingbao
Baotian Li ...
Tang, the Gang Boss
Wang Xiaoxiao ...
Shuisheng, the boy
...
Liu, 6th Uncle
Chun Sun ...
Song, Tang's No. 2
Biao Fu ...
Zheng, Tang's No.3
Shu Chen ...
Shi Ye
Jiang Liu ...
Fat Yu
Baoying Jiang ...
Cuihua, the Widow
Yang Qianquan ...
Ah Jiao
Ying Gao
Weiming Gao
Lian Shuliang
Ya'nan Wang
Zhang Yayun
Edit

Storyline

Uncle Liu brings his cousin to Shanghai to work for 'Boss,' the leader of a powerful drug empire in the 1930's. Shuisheng, a simple country boy is awed and overwhelmed by the opulence and immense wealth he is suddenly surrounded by. He is to be the attendant of Xiao Jingbao, the new mistress of 'Boss.' While he fumbles with the demands of his new role, much intrigue is going on around him, well beyond his bewildered perception. Xiao Jingbao is having a tumultuous affair, Fat Yu is starting a gang war, and 'Boss' is beginning to suspect that one of his trusted men is not loyal. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

shanghai | uncle | mistress | 1930s | servant | See more »

Taglines:

In 1930's Shanghai violence was not the problem. It was the solution.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and images of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

22 December 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shanghai Triad  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

SGD 780,000 (Singapore)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was a difficult film for Yimou Zhang to make. His relationship with his leading lady Li Gong was coming to an acrimonious end and the Chinese authorities were deliberately hassling him with complicated and elusive work permits. That was mainly because they were still annoyed with him for submitting his previous film To Live (1994) to the Cannes Film Festival without their permission. See more »

Quotes

6th Uncle: The Boss always says, "Women's business is nothing but wind. Men's business, no matter how small, is important."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A film of both aesthetic beauty and immense heart
6 October 2000 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

When I first saw Zhang Yimou's wonderful 'Raise the Red Lantern', I missed all but the last 30 minutes. This is the most regretful episode of my life for the film has now been deleted. My life was honestly changed as that half an hour was a real time anomoly, obeying the theory of relativity and breaking that particular convention by immersing me so fully that it seemed to last forever and yet, not long enough. 'Shanghai Triad' does not contain that one off quality, however, it is in itself a fascinating film. The colour scheme, of many Yimou films remains, his use of colour is deeply moving as it becomes sublime and almost 'old school'. You can see movies of the studio system being played out again but in a whole new style. Red is so prominent once again and for reasons we can only speculate. Personally I see the colour red as an exciting colour, it conveys to me a sense of a past in which I did not belong to, how I did not exist. The fascination I have in history pre-1982 and more importantly the early 20th century glamour and ancient history.

The splendour of the whole thing is beyond belief, it could almost have the production values of a Hollywood mainstream movie. It shows that perhaps you can create a better effect with lower production values. The Tang household is splendid, but it's vastness perfectly encapsulates a lonely feeling that puts you in the place of the child as well as any cliched point of view shots ever could. It is moments like these that prove Yimou's background as a cinematographer, he is a master of the visual, able to simply show a character's mood in an implicit sweep of camera and minutely fine detail within the mise-en-scene excluding cliche from his work completely. This is the sort of filmmaking we would associate with Ridley Scott, Scott is a visualist, he works with far darker tones than Yimou, which from a personal point of view, makes Yimou my prefered choice, but Scott himself blended both dark and light in 'Thelma and Louise' like Yimou has done for most of his career. The characters themselves have layers of light and dark which are conveyed well in all of their surroundings.

This comparison with Scott brings me to the point in Triad when the empathy shifts from the boy to be shared by him and Bijou. This does echo a bit of the Roy Batty syndrome which was probably the reason for 'Blade Runner's' limited success on it's original release, or so says Robert McKee. But Gong Li's performance is outstanding. She nails Bijou's nasty streak to a tee and then compels us to believe that she is more than that. Of course it is helped when the viewer feels that the situation she is in is a frightening one, not unlike mountaineering where one false step could end up in death, at what ever height you are at. Li is one of the finest actresses in the world, not to mention that her beauty is unparalleled. (Despite the fact that she is just four years younger than my mother) The film may not be seen as very moral but it is clear that it has heart as we feel so bad about the events that end the film. Li shows her hardness of character and complete vulnerability then finally her loss of control, shame and regret. This heart is not made of solid stone, rather a quite flexible rubber.

It requires a period of reflection, one that does not equal that of 'Raise the Red Lantern' but is the only film to have such a numbing effect since. By now though, I have Lantern in such a high regard that it borders on gaining a mythical quality as I have yet to see it in it's entirety. It's not every day that a heavily opinionated young man will be reduced to a pathetic single syllable, but when Triad is finished, many of you will be reduced to it too, lay back and just clear your head of anything other than the film, all that enters the head will be "Wow".


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